Dancing lambs, snow tipped mountains, sea princesses, smiley moon faces, factory sheds and made up words!
If you have been watching our Instagram or Facebook stories for a while you will know I have a complete fascination with blanket labels. I've never been one for history, preferring the art room and craft table but (wait for it - the dreaded words) "as I've got older" a real appreciation and interest in cycles of life has grown. I now find value in stories that are fading and a have a desire to regain some of the substance of our heritage in our screen filled world. These little 5cm x 5cm windows share a glimpse back into 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's New Zealand life.
At face value blanket labels tell us where the blanket was made, what it is made from, who made it and sometimes the blanket has a name. Labels varied through a companies evolution so are also helpful in dating a blanket. This is useful information!
For the Wellingtonians
Napier, Kaiapoi, Roslyn, Onehunga, Timaru, Wanganui (blanket spelling), Waverly, Milton, Mosgiel, Omaru, Wellington, Ashburton to name a few. I believe there were 18 major wool mills back in the day. I have yet to make a defined list but it's on the To-Do list. These wool mills shaped our home towns, many of us have had family members who worked within the factories. This creates a sense of connection, familiarity, ownership and pride. I love the sense of journey and connection to our wonderful country. Yes it's ok to be proud to be a kiwi and what we have created!
Classic Kiwi imagery
Blanket labels tell us what the blanket is made of. Wool! Beautiful warm durable, environmentally friendly wool. Here's a interesting, once in a blue moon secret. I've had the odd blanket that lied! I sell wool. I can spot it a mile away, and I can tell you if there is acrylic or something else in there. I'm not sure the labelling was as strict back in the day as it is now. You make a false claim on a label today and you will get called on it. Anyways I find that slightly more amusing than anything. Oh and for peace of mind, on that odd occasion I think that one of our blankets is not pure wool, don't worry I'll let you know.
93%, not 92% or 94% :)
The blanket labels give us some information about us as a people. Many link to our Maori heritage with beautiful stories of vulnerability and strength. Scottish bloodlines, many of whom made up our first sheep farmers and there is the occasional curious international reference. For example El Rey and Calypso blankets - was there a Mexican influence at some point?
I see some interesting companies too who commissioned blankets to be made. I love seeing the old Farmers logo come up frequently. Other familiar ones like Rendells, Smith & Brown, Lincot along with less familiar names that have closed or been bought out over the years.
Dreamwarm with happy moon faces for Rendells and the familiar Woolmark logo.
Blanket labels are fun. I always get a giggle from some of the made up words. I suspect blanket manufacturers of the 70's didn't take themselves too seriously! We have Cuddlesnug, Galaxie, Fleeso, Wondawarm, Warma, Cosylite, Osowarm, Mountie, Robinwul... just say those words out loud and tell me you don't feel a little happier! And that's just few.
One of my favourites, pretty in pink
And finally some labels are just beautiful. They really are little pieces of art. I have my favourites. Usually embroidered with detail and fine design.
Robinwul did a few different versions of this. Always lovely.
Fun fact: Blankets were often sold in pairs or even fours. The top blanket only got the label.
Fun fact: Wool ALWAYS outlives the label (and the satin in a edged blanket).
Fun fact: Embroidered labels last longer than printed ones. And yes if you iron your label too hot it WILL melt...lol.
Fun fact: Some labels are collectible and raise the value of a blanket.
Our use of words have evolved over the years
I do get asked this from time to time, yes I do have a label collection but in case you are wondering I have a firm rule - I never remove a label from a useable blanket. My label collection comes purely from blankets that are destined for the SPCA or feline rescues that I donate too. I occasionally sell the odd double up label. I think they look neat in frames but again, only ever from an unrestorable blanket.
Thank goodness the mills sometimes included the clan name. So many tartans with subtle differences.
Well, I hope you learned something new. Even if only to notice the labels in your own linen cupboard (blankets on beds people!) in a fresh way or further cement that I am a blanket weirdo. haha. If you have label and blanket original info or stories to share I'd love to hear it. Please send me a message or leave a comment below. I will finish this Blog post by taking liberties with Forrest Gump 's well known quote. Life is like NZ wool blanket, you never know what you're going to get.
Have wonderful and warm day beautiful people!
Fab view of the Kaiapoi Wool Mill.